Monthly Archives: December 2011

A "Berry" Merry Christmas

The first time I have ever spent Christmas away from the nuclear family (mom, pops, sister and bro) happened to be in Regina, Saskatchewan – I didn’t see that one coming.  Not that there is anything wrong with Saskatchewan but I knew missing family Christmas would happen one day but I always pictured it while I was working away in Prague or New Zealand and unable to afford the trek home for the holidays.

My dad’s sister, her husband and their 4 delightful progeny were kind enough to host me at the Berry* household with Coco the cat, Peanut the gerbil, three salamanders, one gecko and two underwater frogs for the big day.  We ate too much junk food, I tried out their xbox kinect (the first video game that is ACTUALLY a work out – I could barely stick out 3 levels!), fell for the new Zelda game so much that I’m thinking about getting a wii to play it, played some uno, took lots of naps, and exchanged gifts.  My mommy shipped me my stocking and I cleaned up with a freshwater pearl necklace, a car safety kit, some cool canvas bags, granola, a cookbook, sweet potato & cinnamon muffin mix, and – so that I’m not the only one in my office without one – my very own Fossil purse!

And now a lesson – the second you can afford not to use the greyhound you will suddenly be too good for the greyhound.  12 hours there, 15 hours back – bus limit reached!.  I sat with my legs cramped dreaming of my very own Otto, right in my driveway.  Driving would have allowed me to stop and explore all the dinky little towns along the way that called to me from the loser-cruiser.  The roommate was kind enough to check in on a regular basis regarding the attachment of my head to my body.

And a bit of a rant about the bus system – definitely not built for comfort.  Just a few hours outside regina you will be kicked off the bus in a place called Swiftcurrent.  The bus depot was “conveniently” built in an industrial park with no other sources for nourishment than their very own restaurant.  And what a restaurant it was.  $10 for a juice, a soggy ceasar salad (alliteration!) and a grilled cheese on organ-preserving white bread with rubber “cheese” inside served in a cafeteria.  The worst part was all of the old people sitting around commenting on the fantastic quality of the food.  I would hate to know what most of them eat on a regular basis.  Fine.  Swiftcurrent is small.  Calgary should be better right?  Nope.  The same set up on a larger scale – nothing outside but warehouses – nothing inside but expensive fried food.  AND there is no bus schedule posted (electronic or otherwise) so if one wants to know what time one’s bus leaves or from which platform (which your ticket will not tell you) you must wait in line at the ticket/information counter in order to inquire.

*Spelling of last name changed because my aunt is fairly paranoid ;

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Tasty Houses

We made houses for cookie people and then ATE THOSE HOUSES.  Just joking – I plan to eat it for Christmas.  A fun little quirk of the cafe in our hospital is that they make extra dough for various sweet treats and then sell it to the staff at the hospital.  This time of year you can pick up gingerbread and ginger snap doughs (as well as sugar cookie dough and pie crust).  Taking the easy way out I and two friends at work got ourselves some raw cookie junk and made three little personalized edible houses.  Every time I start a project like this I feel like “Ok Martha, this can’t be that hard” and I end up feeling like a kindergarten student by the end painting goopy icing on with my fingers.  
B’s house reminiscent of Mario’s Rainbow Road

My house with skittle walkway (if only….)

Salud’s kitschy crooked-but-charming roofed house  with marshmallow walkway

B’s special “juice”

The mess

The back of my house and an evergreen made of feet

“I can’t believe it’s not feces” now in gingerbread

Harper’s Tangrams

I get the feeling that Canada doesn’t look quite right to PriMordial Stephen Harper.  Tangrams were a grade 4 make work activity to develop visuospatial intelligence.  (or apparently Wikipedia thinks they are an ancient Chinese puzzle).  I’m not going to lie – the idea for this political toon came to me and I was so absorbed in the idea and in trying to get that creepy glint to Harper’s eye that I’m not entirely sure it makes sense outside of my own brain.

It is basically a commentary on how I think our Not-so-Prime Minister has the ultimate goal of changing the shape (values, vision, political structure) of Canada to more closely resemble the United States.  And he just creeps me out.  Yes, I realize the tangrams don’t include the territories but I think Harper’s USA-shaped-Canada would not include them I am sad to say (unless, of course, the primary industries are blown wide open up there).  

We Were All Thinking It

There have been two big uproars in the normally internationally ignored Canadian political front.  The first came earlier this week (as no surprise) when the conservative government officially withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.  This move took a swift chunk right out of Canada’s world image and brought it another step closer to the conservative’s ultimate plan of an America shaped Canada.  Honestly,  some of the the conservative government’s reasons for pulling out even make sense on the surface:  we can’t hit the targets without damaging the Canadian economy, none of the other big polluters have to do it! (waaaah), they have a better plan, we shouldn’t have signed it in the first place.  Yes, the economy is important.  Ours is one of the only economies in the “west” not looking directly into the crapper and, of course, it would be nice to keep it that way.  No, the US and China did not sign Kyoto.  They have a better plan – this one I can’t even address except to say – um, yeah right.  The point more than Kyoto or not is that we’re tarnishing Canada’s reputation, we’re going back on our word and we’re taking the easy way out.  I’m tired of feeling like I have to apologize to the world for the behaviour of our current government (thank clothespins I at least did not vote for them).

That brings me to the second media storm:  Justin Trudeau calling Environment Minister Peter Kent a “piece of sh*t”.  The worst part is that he had to apologize.  Please.  Environment Minister is a puppet post for this government, a mere formality with a good salary.  I think this outburst is a sign of the opposition’s growing frustration with this insufferable PC cabinet.  I say, well done Mr. Trudeau; it isn’t like everyone in the room wasn’t already thinking it.  Could you direct that Harper’s way next time?

Ladies with Brooms

Moving to the West I made a big list of fun times and new experiences.  Life-enriching moments if you will.  And near the top of that list was Curling.  So I joined a fun league and play every Tuesday night.  If I say I’m busy Tuesday then I’m sliding down the ice on my “slippy shoe”*.  You may be surprised to find out that curling actually requires quite a bit of skill.  Lots of that is figuring out how hard to throw the rock, how much to turn it, and how to fall gracefully.  I haven’t mastered any of those things.

I’ve even been reading up on the game (I was going to say “sport” but don’t want to start any arguments).  While on my trip back to TO for graduation I found myself exploring a street near where I was staying and found a box of FREE STUFF.  FREE.  Just waiting for me at the top was a “Curling for Dummies” book.  It was fate.

Some curling terms:
House:  the whole bulls-eye painted under the ice
Button:  the very middle circle
Draw:  to put the rock in the house
Sweep: the crazy action of sweeping really fast in front of the rock in the belief that the harder you sweep the less the rock will “curl” off to one side or another – I’m not yet convinced.  But then again, I haven’t reached the sweeping chapter in my Dummies book.
Skip:  the person on the team who calls all the shots
Hurry hard!!!! what you get to yell as loud as you want to encourage vigorous sweeping

Mostly I enjoy the banter.  The cooperativeness (it is a very polite game).  And the fact that curling lends itself so well to Happy Gilmore quotes.
“Go home!  Are you too good for your home?”
“Just tap it in.  Just tap it in.  Give the ol’ tap tap tapperoo”

Curling is winter’s golf:  it really does take skill but you can play even if you spend the other 166 hours in the week eating cheetos and watching HD tv.  You can also reach your peak at age 67.  This sport is my last chance to make the Olympics.  Iqaluit 2042 here I come!

*Every time I say or think “slippy shoe” I then begin to sing “damn, that’s a slippy shoe. That’s a slippy shoe” to myself – it goes to the tune of the “Sexy B*tch** song.
**I don’t know why it is always vowels that get starred out in “curse” words.  Really, if you want to disguise the word it would be the least effective way to do so since the consonants are more at the heart of most English words.  Removing vowels still make many words fairly recognizable when we attempt to slur the consonants together – school = sch-l, pen = pn, flower = flwr.  See?  Try blocking out random consonants and the words aren’t as easy to recognize – ca, reote, awl.  Did you guess that those were cab, remote and crawl?  It may be better off writing “*itch, or shi*.  Ok, swears are still recognizable but there is some doubt and I don’t automatically pronounce properly in my head.  But swears don’t offend me so I don’t care either way.  

My Alberta Life

An excerpt from a text convo with my roomie last night (approx 11pm):

Roomie:  you still up

Me:  Yeah, what’s up?

Roomie:  want to do me a favour?

Me:  Perhaps I could be persuaded.  What can I do?

Roomie:  you would need to get gun powder out of my vault and bring it here.  for that I would take you to jasper or louise.

Me:  Interesting.  What are you going to do with it?

Roomie:  im going to shoot a baby canon with it

That is the first time I have been requested to deliver gun powder and I brought it to the armories.  I left the line about jasper/louise in there just to prove it later on.  It sounds like quite the lifestyle but if the zombie apocalypse hits I have almost assured safety.  My roommate even has a plan:  unload the gun cabinet (actually a room), high-tail it to Costco, secure the roof and, bam!, we control the resources and have a great lookout post.

Bonus photo – when I dropped off the gun powder I got a tour of the big weapons.

Speaking of zombie apocalypse, I had a wonderful visit from the Jedi Master and her new hubs, the Eagle. We enjoyed some lovely blooming teas and very bacon-y perogies at Glenn’s Tea House.  We basically soaked up all the culture in Red Deer.  I think, in that instance, we were the culture in town.  On top of all of that greatness I got a lovely gift of raw honey crafted by Toronto bees and earned by the Jedi Master and her bee gear.  

A Fitting End to November

My November had little to do with mustaches (except my last post) but a whole lot to do with snow.  Perhaps SNOvember would be more accurate (I’m sure that was highly original of  me).  To cap off the month we got 15cm of snow overnight.  Just the chance to test out Otto’s new winter boots.  I was debating back and forth about whether he deserved/needed such extravagant footwear and today was a confirmation that I made the right grown up choice.  I had to drive out to a rural site 30 minutes away on a teeny highway and he gripped like nobody’s business.  Plus, with the extra control, I had fun throwing out his back end around snowy corners at every opportunity (read:  without other drivers around to hit).

 Is it wrong to love tires so much?  I considered trying to get a photo hugging them but it is cold out and the angle was awkward.  Look at THOSE TREADS!!!!  LOOK!

Otto has a snowy smile.  Without the flash it looks like he’s got a bit of Lindsay Lohan going on.

I have been doing all kinds of things that adults who own cars do:

-shoveling the driveway
-using a car wash
-scraping car windows (ALL THE TIME)
-parallel parking
-plugging the car in at night
-checking the weather report to know if I NEED to plug in the car the night before
-filling up the gas tank (wait…the guy who pumps the gas does that)

Also, when I went to drop off my car for the new tires I had to hand over my keys.  It was at that moment that I remembered that my keychain says “Pastors of Excellence”.  Best. Keychain. Ever. I wonder if they noticed….